>”Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore!” That’s what Fourth Year class president Will Dabbs told our class he thought his first week in Gross Anatomy when he saw a diminutive classmate of his, strolling across the dissection lab with a human leg draped over his shoulder like some kind of bizarre rolled-up carpet. Will gave the first years a motivational talk and encouraged us to “suck it up” and hang in there when the inevitable doubts creep up on us in the next few months. He said everyone will go through the stage where they wonder what in the world they have gotten themselves into. But we each owe it to the two people bagging groceries who wanted our slot, but didn’t get in this year, to not quit. He told us it would “suck to be us” for the next two years, but if we could get through that it was downhill from there.
It hasn’t taken me that long to get my first reality check. When I saw our reading assignments for the rest of the week, I knew we were in “game on” mode. First year lasts 40 weeks and there is a LOT of material to cover. Someone had told me trying to learn all of the material in the time allotted was like trying to drink water from a fire hydrant, and I can already see what they mean. If I hadn’t been warned so much already, I think I could start to slip into panic mode. And I’ve only had one day of class. We went to Biochemistry today and had an Introduction to Cell Structures lecture and one on pH concepts. The syllabus calls for 89 lectures, 15 clinical studies, 6 exams, a comprehensive final, and a standardized National Board step exam.
We have our first Gross Anatomy lab tomorrow. As preparation we were assigned about 80 pages of reading. We will begin by dissecting the back. Some of our reading discussed the proper techniques for “skinning.” We have Anatomy every afternoon but Wednesday, so on those days we will wear scrubs all day. You cover those with a lab coat and are required to launder the coat at least twice a week. I hear that they get pretty nasty!
Yesterday was the last day of leisure I feel like I will have in a LONG time. We finished our registration and orientation during the day and then had a “White Coat Ceremony” that evening. After a very nice meal, Dr. John Stone, a cardiologist and poet from Emory University in Atlanta spoke to us. He is a very good speaker and full of stories and poems. We were each presented our first white coat, symbolic of the new profession we are entering into. We also received a nice book which Dr. Stone co-edited called On Doctoring. It is a collection of stories, poems and essays by some of the world’s great writers. It looks great, but I don’t know when I’ll find time to read it.
Here’s a picture of me in my new white coat. Do I look like I could say, “Drop your pants, please?”